7th Plenary Session: Future Education
Moderator: Dr. Uki Maroshek-Klarman, Academic Director, Adam Institute;
Prof. Nimrod Aloni, Director and Chair, Institute for Progressive Education UNESCO Chair in Humanistic Education, Kibbutzim College of Education;
Dr. Zuhaira Najjar, Lecturer, Arab Academic College for Education in Israel, Haifa
MK Prof. Yossi Yonah, Education, Culture and Sports committee of the Knesset;
Prof. Nimrod Aloni
There are 30,000 work migrants and 30,000 asylum seekers, refugees living in South Tel Aviv. The 30,000 asylum seekers are a distressed population, culturally estranged from Western culture. Most of them arrived to Tel Aviv after crossing Egypt and suffering severe traumas in Sinai after 2010. Most of them are from South Sudan and Eritrea. There are 5,500 such children in Tel Aviv, 400 of them aged six or less.
There are close to 80 pirate day care facilities where toddlers are “stored” in unbearable conditions. At the age of 3-4 they enter the city’s kindergartens and from there on to school, most of them to the Bialik-Rogozin school. Despite of the difficulties, a social struggle prevented the deportation of most of the children. The students who graduate from the Bialik-Rogozin school have higher than average matriculation grades and they integrate into the general society.
The Bialik-Rogozin school is a 13 year school; most of the students are from foreign communities. Since its establishment they have dealt with the dilemma of what to teach. The educational environment that was formed is pluralistic, multi-cultural, containing, and dialogic. Naturally there are challenges and questions concerning holidays, symbols and languages.
I think the secret of the Bialik-Rogozin school’s success lies in four elements:
- Worldview, consciousness, approach: the school has an ethical-pedagogical manifest; it is committed to a pluralistic, multi-cultured worldview. In education, like in medicine, there are no foreigners. Every boy and girl will receive a fair chance to life with dignity.
- Efficiency, professionalism, attention to details, initiative, resource development. Along with the humanistic approach there is a need for leadership and practicality.
- Holistic systemic approach. The school is also a home; it cares for all the needs of both students and their parents.
- Pedagogy: Putting people before theory and finely balancing between integration and multi-culturalism.
The Bialik-Rogozin school is a warm, loving accepting and inclusive place besides being demanding and yielding higher than the national average academic achievements. The wisdom of action founded on the right values and reinventing itself every minute is what turns it into a success story.
Dr. Zuhaira Najjar
I want to present the findings of my study: Majority and minority perceptions and group affiliation among students in teacher-training colleges. The study included 202 students from 8 colleges, 2 Arabs and 6 mixed.
All the Jewish students associated themselves with the majority group, except students from Ethiopian origins who were ambivalent about their group affiliation. All the Arabs defined themselves as belonging to the Arab minority in the state of Israel but in the colleges they are the majority.
The Jewish students had difficulties in defining majority and minority and defined it only numerically. Ethiopian students referred to the numerical aspect but also to power relations, the absence of rights and deprivation as well, similar to the Arab students. When referring to minority and majority, the Arab students mentioned the degree of influence the group has on the agenda and the level of leadership it has culturally, socially and economically. They also mentioned the degree of control one group has over the other as well as the scope of the rights granted by the State to the group.
Feelings that are related to the negative perception of the minority by the majority came up: insecurity, dilemmas in defining national and cultural identity, oppression, trampling of rights, discrimination and racism. Students who belong to a minority group are more aware of the minority’s difficulties. Jews define majority and minority without attaching themselves to the concepts. Among the Arabs, the definition is personal. The interviews with the Arab students exposed significant problems for the Arab minority in Israel.
It seems that in college, one can ignore the tensions which exist outside and Arab students try to connect themselves to the majority who has a positive connotation.
Most of the students said they are willing to share assignments with students from other cultures and assigned an important role for the lecturers as agents for students from minority groups. Most of the students praised shared studying. Most of the students have a sense of belonging to the college and testify to a positive ambience. The nurturing environment feeds on the social relations that prevent loneliness.
In colleges, an encounter is created with other cultures – and here, joint studying important. In teacher-training colleges, warm personal relationships are formed; the college is a small, intimate place that enables the forming of additional, positive identities. It is a bubble that enables minorities to grow and strengthen. The college enables interpersonal encounters, disconnected from the political context, encounters between groups that are disconnected from the outside world, hence the value of joint living.
My message is: let’s invest in education and then security and peace will follow. The minority’s feelings of alienation can be solved solely by education.
MK Prof. Yossi Yonah
There is a difference between multiculturalism in the shared public sphere and multiculturalism in separate public spheres. There are completely homogenous schools in mixed cities and there are heterogeneous schools which aren’t necessarily multicultural. Mixed cities have a single-cultural orientation. The dominant culture aims at assimilating the other to create a monolithic entity. This is the prevailing situation.
Bernard Williams argued optimistically that we are moving towards a post-absolutist era, in which people will be skeptical about their own culture. There will be no absolutist hierarchy for positions or cultures. Problems arise when there is a concept of absolutist hierarchy. Willingness for multiculturalism requires a post-absolutist perception which in turn enables multiculturalism to prosper.
In the Arab states, where they were mixed, religion created cultural differentiation. In Israel, there is tension between two national narratives. There is mutual negation of the other’s narrative which is a barrier for multiculturalism. We are living in a nation-state which is reluctant to mix narratives. The mixed city has to contend with distinguishing national characteristics of the other.
A shared national narrative isn’t applicable here and both groups are currently uninterested in one. A moderate aspiration toward multiculturalism is for mutual recognition and not that of a melting of narratives. In Israel these days we are a long way even from this moderate aspiration. What is left is to return to the hope that reality is fluid and transient. I can’t see a platform dictated by the above, but it can be created by channels rising from reality itself.
Dr. Uki Maroshek-Klarman
The standard educational activities create negative processes: strangers feel more estranged and pushed away as a result of pedagogy that aims at bringing them closer. This happens because the discussion about the other takes place as if the other isn’t present. It’s a discourse of the majority that doesn’t take into account the fact that in that specific classroom there are individuals who belong to the other group the teacher is speaking of. That child becomes the other when discussing tolerance and that distances rather than brings him/her closer.
There is denial of discrimination. Dismantling of generalizations is done by giving specific examples, in the name of breaking stereotypes, to the extent of denying the existing situation. The weak and the strong cooperate with it, each with their own motivation. Multiculturalism doesn’t dismantle the generalizations and recognizes the status of the groups in society. We have to change our action strategy. We have to break stereotypes vis-a-vis groups and not just individuals, in the most critical areas.
The question of narratives is very interesting. Those who aspire to peace as well as those who prefer war forgo the peace narrative. We can discuss the narrative of non-violent resistance in both groups for instance. This is an angle that regretfully isn’t present. From both left and right we adhere to war.
Question: MK Prof. Yossi Yonah, how do you see your role in the parliament with the standpoint you have presented?
MK Prof. Yossi Yonah
I’m active in places that deal with narratives, but the scope of my influence is limited. I try to form connections between distributive justice and narratives. The state gives resources according to the person’s contribution to the narrative. To claim resources for Yeruham I turn to the narrative. In this instance I have influenced and I’m able to present an alternative narrative to the usual one. Changing the narrative can be translated to allocation of material resources, and here I feel that I do have an influence. Another way is making the legacy of Ethiopian Jews part of the general legacy, building the shared narrative.